Homily 245 – Thirty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
January 22, 2017
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.
In his commentary on this passage, Blessed Theophylact notes that this is a rather mundane setting for a miracle.
Jesus and the disciples were walking to Jericho. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. Not even worth mentioning, really.
Many of Christ’s encounters are like this – rather mundane and ordinary. The woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood. Even the calling of the Apostles from their fishing to follow Him.
There is a joy in the ordinary, and particularly in Christ’s participation in that ordinary.
Christ seemed to relish the ordinary. He was in the temple frequently, yet no miracles occurred there – except perhaps the time he swept out the business people.
He did heal in a synagogue, but not the Temple.
Blessed Theophylact tells us the implication is for us to remain vigilant at all times, every moment, for the message, the activity, and the Joy of Christ is found when it isn’t expected.
Which is kinda opposite of the way we imagine things should be.
We imagine that grand events happen in grand venues. In our worldly view, that is perhaps true. But the really significant events – the most meaningful, the most life-altering – rarely happen in a grand venue.
More often than not, they happen in quiet, small places. Like our homes. Our dinner tables.
A family reunion.
We expect big miracles from God in the Temple, in our Churches. But the miracles are in a mountain meadow, where the 5,000 were fed.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, where it was Christ and the Three Apostles closest to Him.
Before the Sanhedrin, before Pilate, Christ was silent. Those were big venues. Grand venues.
The tomb was not a grand venue. But there Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Christ.
On the road to Emmaus, the Apostle Cleopas and a companion encounters the risen Christ.
On the road to Damascus the Apostle Paul encounters the risen Christ.
When we seemingly least expect it – that is when we encounter the risen Christ.
We expect it on Pascha – we expect it on Transfiguration, or Christmas. Great Lent even. Not on the Thirty-first Sunday after Pentecost.
And yet, here it is. In all Christ’s Glory – for us.
In 1 Kings, chapter 19, we read about the Prophet Elijah’s encounter with God:
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire a sound – a thin silence.
That is where the Lord is. A thin silence.
My brothers and sisters – our Lord does not behave as a celebrity, or a power broker, or a politician. There isn’t fanfare. There isn’t warning.
He’s not hiding – He told us where He can be found.
He is the homeless. The naked. The hungry. The sick. The imprisoned.
These aren’t just people Christ loves or people Christ came to serve. When we see these people, we see Christ. Himself.
We encounter Him every place we encounter love. The embrace of our parents, our children, our spouse. The gentle touch of a caregiver.
These are the places where God resides. Where God performs miracles.
As someone said somewhere in the past – Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.
You could miss Christ. Because of – what?
Pursuit of wealth? The greatest wealth in the world doesn’t compare to the Love of our Creator.
Pursuit of fame? The only eternal memory is found in God.
There are benefits to opting out of the rat race. There is a cost as well – but in my mind, and experience, the benefits more than make up for the cost.
We give up the nice things for the nicer relationships.
We give up power for love.
We give up 15 minutes of fame for eternal memory – which is eternal life.
We give up the illusion of life for the real thing!
Like the blind man – we give up everything in order to see.
And, in addition, God gives us everything we need as well.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!